There we were, MaRea, her friend, three or four giddy kids, and me. The line into Lego Land wasn't very long, but my "theme park anxiety" was growing. On occasion I experience an uneasy feeling when we pass through a ticket counter, register or checkout line. This was one of those occasions. At this point MaRea, who never gets that feeling, was shining with pride, because her plan for half price entrance was seconds away from fruition. Then without any warning she approaches couple with two small kids and offers them the remaining spots in our coupons. Once pass the awkwardness of her invitation they gladly joined our group. After a short explanation to the confused teenager behind the glass, all ten of us enter the park for the price of five. You should have seen the smiles on those parent's face. I bet they enjoyed their time at Lego Land more than expected that day.
This story has many versions with MaRea, unfortunately I don't remember them all, but she will. Also if you asked her about, her shampoo deal, her washer and dryer, her Iphones, her Progresso soup, her Toaster Strudels, Dyson, never ending boxes of cereal, . . . (you get the point), she'd have an equally amazing story about the price, location, effort and result of the deal. One time we bought $600 of groceries for less than $30, (I'm sure she'll correct my numbers later). Most of you already know this about MaRea, but what amazed me was last night about 11:30pm I finally put a name to her obsession.
She is a "Marketplace Maven." I read this term in Malcom Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point." He describes a Maven as an "information broker" or someone who is "almost pathologically helpful." There you have it, that's my wife, "pathologically helpful." She can't help it. She can't allow someone to overpay or get less than they should. She will speak up, she will email, call, text or even come to your house if necessary to share her information.
At times I wondered if this ever annoys people, but after reading Gladwell's description I've realized a greater appreciation for MaRea. She never gives her advice or help expecting anything in return. This is not about her feeling good. It is about helping everyone else. If you ask her how much you should pay for (insert any arbitrary item) she will either give you exact details, or spend her first available minute on the internet finding out. I have many times sat by as she has helped someone who didn't seem interested . It doesn't matter, she'll still help. She isn't trying to brag or make herself seem over important. An opportunity to help is never passed, even if the one being helped is extremely wealthy. Even the rich need a deal!
I know everyone of you at one point have benefitted from her efforts. Just take a minute and think, it may have been a while ago or maybe you brushed off her help as unnecessary, but if you try hard enough I bet that most all of you can think of at least one thing she has told you, showed you, or done for that has saved you a lot of money, time or effort. I urge you not to take our own "marketplace maven" for granted. If you do not seek her help or knowledge she will hunt you down and give it to you, because it WILL be of benefit. And next time she calls you with some juicy nuggets, be aware that she has probably spent a few hours researching those nuggets just with you in mind. If you don't take her seriously, you might run the risk of losing what would be a great benefit in your life. Next time you get a call or a text from her, I urge you to sit up straight, put down the remote or book, grab a pen and paper, because what she has to share should not be taken lightly. If you are one of the lucky ones she has helped take a minute and tell us how.
So to my beloved Marketplace Maven, thanks for all you do for us. We know it costs you sleepless nights, anxiety and some miserable trips to the store, but we are forever grateful and will continue to seek your counsel, for surely there is wisdom to be had.